8bitDo answers the question, “What if Nintendo had made a mouse in 1985?”

You think I’m kidding. 8bitDo says the “N30 2.4g is a modern mouse that respects the classics”. It’s not a secret which classic they’re referring to. The N30 2.4g looks just like it belongs with a Nintendo computer from 1985. It’s awesome.

The N30 2.4g has big red left and right mouse buttons, framed in black squares, just like a certain Nintendo NES controller did. The space between the two buttons is touch capacitive sense for scrolling. The side of the mouse has a 4 way D-pad that controls page up, page down, forward and what 8bitDo calls “upward”.

The mouse works with Windows and Mac, and uses a proprietary 2.4gHz wireless with USB dongle for faster radio communication. There’s no clarity on what the dpi is for the optical mouse. It’s safe to presume this may not be a mouse for competitive video gamers.

1984 was peak early computer. The IBM PC 5150 had been out for three years, VIC-20 had been superseded by Commodore 64, Lisa with its mouse had come and flopped, and the Macintosh had just debuted with its mouse and system that would change the path of personal computing.

Nintendo had been working on the Famicom since 1982. It was the Family Computer, and while a games system, also had an expansion port that later supported a keyboard, modem, and a disk drive. That was only available in Japan.

In 1983, the video games industry in North America went through a recession. Retailers though they’d reached peak saturation on the number of video game systems that could be sold. What was Nintendo to do? They already had a games system in the works for the US.

Nintendo re-envisioned Famicom as the Nintendo Advanced Video System. They felt that one of the things that ruined Atari was that Atari allowed low quality games on their system. To solve for this, Nintendo created a lock-out system to only allow games or software they approved.

By Russell Bernice and Chris Donlan (“Doonvas”), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31293613

If that feels like every games system ever, it is. If it feels like modern app stores, you aren’t wrong. History’s funny that way.

To make the AVS feel like a computer, not a games system, they created a tape cassette storage system called the Data Recorder, the console, a keyboard, a light gun, and two controllers that, weirdly, look nothing like the iconic ones we know today.

The keyboard and every other accessory used infrared for wireless technology, something the IBM PCjr. would do with its keyboard a year later. At the time, people didn’t respond well to wireless. That mostly was because it required line of sight and wasn’t as consistent as you might like a keyboard to be.

PCjr. launched with this keyboard. Everyone hated it.

Had Nintendo made a mouse back then, I like to think it would have looked exactly like 8bitDo’s designer, Daniel Jansson, has dreamed up. If you want to experience the best of a design that respects that moment in time, when Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. were the coolest, get it for $24.99 USD at 8bitDo.com.

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